How do you get to Heaven?
This discussion (0:24:40 video and while interesting, not required for the discussion) got me wondering.
The ancients who wrote the Bible wrote that Heaven was up in the sky. It was in The Heavens, the top layer of the firmaments above the Earth. The Sun, the Moon, the planets and the stars were each in their own dome as well. All this is dutifully recorded in Genesis 1. Hell (which wasn’t invented till the New Testament) was beneath the Earth. Humans thought they lived on a flat Earth back then. God seemed to think so too, because he was genuinely worried when the humans of Earth came together to build a tower to heaven.
Back when the optical lens was first invented, and used to make a telescope, the leaders of the Catholic Church were terrified and did all in their power to stop the device’s use. They feared that when humans looked more closely at “The Heavens” they would not see any place like Heaven up there. Indeed, that’s just what came to pass.
Church elders had to scramble to come up with a new model for Heaven’s location. That new model is a Heaven that sits outside spacetime, in a spiritual realm where science cannot ever explore. Hell moved there too. It’s no longer under the Earth. It turns out it is difficult to give meaning to “under” and “above” when you are dealing with an Earth that is not flat, but an oblate spheroid orbiting the Sun, which is itself orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
And moving on from simple direction, there is the question of what sort of vehicle is required for the trip to Heaven. Nearly every one of the 3000 or so religions man has touted throughout all the ages has had its formula, or formulas, for what one must do and not do to get to Heaven. Among the three Abrahamic religions today, there is vigorous dispute.
Even in Christianity, the largest branch of the three, there are wildly conflicting views. Some say baptism will do it. Others say it’s necessary to be a good person and to pray, attend church and tithe. Still others claim that neither baptism nor good works can get you there. They instead maintain that only by believing in Jesus as your redeemer can you reach heaven. They say faith is enough to transport even a serial killer to Heaven. And then there are those who claim that neither faith, nor baptism, nor works will suffice; that God elects whom he will and we have no control in the matter. And there’s the claim that out of the “110 billion“http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/users/f/felwell/www/Theorists/EverLived.htm humans who have already lived, only 144,000, or 0.00013%, will make it to heaven. All the rest are doomed to eternal torture of unimaginable hideousness. All of these views can be “proven” by selecting the correct verse/s in the Bible.
Then there is the question of whether it’s really you who gets to Heaven to start with. I mean, you’re supposed to have free will when you get there, but be unable to do any wrong. How does that work? Am I still me if some super-being has purged my mind and turned me into an automaton only capable of worshiping the super-being and singing His praises? What if I don’t like doing that for an eternity? Can I leave?
And so this little question, “How do you get to Heaven.” turns out to be far tougher to answer than “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”.